Ethnic minority entrepreneurs (EMEs) have traditionally been associated with lower growth industry sectors (Jones and Ram, 2007; Carter _et al._, 2015; Ram _et al._, 2016, p. 6). This challenge has not been helped by slow growth and high early-failure of minorities' start-ups and small businesses - relative that of other ethnicities, a disconnected entrepreneurial ecosystem, business and management skills' shortages and poor access to information and resources.
Bogged down by ethnic stratification and geographical challenges, ethnic minority entrepreneurs, and African businesses in particular, have often been at the tail end of government initiatives and support (Boyd, 2018), including that they are typically delivered through Quangos such as the various regional chambers of commerce.
One Africa Network (OAN) is an initiative of SSCG Consulting, the leading network for Black and African entrepreneurs, investors, businesses, leaders and professionals in the Midlands, established in 2018 with a vision to inspire, support and catapult African businesses into higher growth and more rewarding industry sectors. As the voice of Black African Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs and professional in the midlands, OAN, through regular events and initiatives, has, since 2018, enhanced the potential, participation, competitiveness and productivity of hundreds of Black and African Minority professionals, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Midlands.
Prior to the Covid19 pandemic, our solutions to address the above needs were delivered through organising face to face inspirational and capacity development events that helped to connect members, facilitate debate on pressing business and economic issues amongst the Black and African communities, encouraged the sharing of knowledge, opportunities and collaboration across various business sectors and disciplines. This offered several benefits to our members, including learning and sharing new opportunities, building new networks for collaboration, entrepreneurial & management skills. However, since the Covid19 pandemic, and subsequent Government lockdown, it has not been possible to host these face-to-face activities, using previous methods - yet the needs for our members have, if anything, been exacerbated by the pandemic.
In order to reach and deliver service to our members remotely, we have had to be innovative and transformative in our approach and operating model, taking advantage of digital technologies and moving all our activities online. This project will help us to maintain contact with, and support for our members. More